Internships. We all want them, we all do them. Here are five questions you should absolutely ask yourself before you even apply.
Does this internship relate to what I want to do full-time?
Don’t just pick any internship. Make sure it relates to what you want to do in the future. For example, you wouldn’t want to apply to an HR internship if you really want to work in marketing. Yes, there might be slight similarities in the positions, but that does not mean it is a good choice. So first, reflect on what it is you think you want to do full-time in the future, and then apply accordingly. Of course, there is always the chance that, once you actually do the internship, you do not like the field at all, and that is also useful to know — doing an internship can also help you eliminate an option you previously thought was ideal for you.
Can I commit to the hours required for this internship?
This is an important point to keep in mind, especially if you are interning during the semester. (In the summer, it is easier to take on full-time internships).
Check how many hours the internship requires, and compare that to how your daily schedule looks. If you find you have a lot of free time, then great! An internship can keep you quite busy, but if you already have a packed schedule, it might not be the smartest thing to take on another responsibility. If you do, you run the risk of feeling overwhelmed, tired and unmotivated because of it. And trust me, your employers will be able to tell.
Some internships require you to come in daily for a set number of hours, others are more flexible and some even allow for remote/virtual collaborations. Find the one that works best for you and your schedule.
Can I afford an unpaid internship?
Internships can be paid or unpaid. Now, that does not mean that the paid internships are the most desirable. Everyone loves making money, sure, but the most important outcome you receive from an internship will depend on the tasks you were responsible for and what you gained from that experience. If it is unpaid, then evaluate your finances ahead of time. Will you need to save up ahead of time? Or will you have another side job? How will this affect your schedule (and sleep!)?
Will I get academic credit?
Most internships, if unpaid, offer college credit and may require you to be a current student or recent graduate. Before accepting an offer of the internship, check with your college or university to see if you are eligible to receive credit — your university is the one who decides. After talking to your college/university, you can then decide to accept or decline the internship.
What will I really get out of the internship?
This is when you want to, first, review the internship description and responsibilities. If you are asked to come in for an interview, then you can also ask the interviewer what you would be doing on a day-to-day basis.
Here are some possible benefits, which may be more important to some people than to others, but you can think about them all:
- Hands-on experience: As an intern, you’ll get a glimpse of the daily life of your possible future and can think about whether this is really what you’ve been dying to do all along. You’ll also grow your skill set, whether it be picking up the phone, sending out emails, communicating with co-workers, and more.
- Networking opportunities: Again, think about your future career goals. Does this internship offer networking opportunities that align with your future career goals? Are there any events you can attend at the company while interning? Also, don’t underestimate your day-to-day work schedule alongside a co-worker; he or she may be able to put in a good word for you later on and put you ahead of other candidates looking for a job full-time.
- Transitioning to full-time employee: In some cases, if you meet all the expectations during the internship and your employer is highly impressed by your work and presence, your temporary internship may develop into full-time work. This does not happen for everyone, but it is possible. Start by making a good impression, ask for informational interviews with HR to see if there is a position available, and network your way to the top!
To get started on your internship search, read my other article on 13 websites for finding jobs and internships here!